Sunday, 22 January 2017

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is the second book in the Illuminae Files trilogy. I previously reviewed the first book, Illuminae, here. The sequel maintains the found footage/documents format of the first book and is a relatively quick read because of it, despite clocking in at 659 pages in my edition. I should also mention that I checked the science for this book so this wasn't my first read through, although it was my first experience of the final copy in all its artistic glory.

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The saga that began with Illuminae continues on board the space station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of BeiTech’s assault. Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter, Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum may be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival. The fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

I enjoyed Gemina more than Illuminae. I think partly because now, with the second book, the authors and the production team have really gotten into their stride with the found documents format. Also, I just liked parts of the storyline more (no space zombies, for example). Also, a lot more of the overarching plot becomes apparent in this book. While there is still some mystery about exactly what's going on and why, we are much less in the dark by the end of this book than we were by the end of the first. (Which is how it should be, obviously.)

I was also quite fond of both protagonists in Gemina: Hanna, the daughter of the station chief and a girl who can kick anyone's arse; and Nik, the drug-dealing scion of a big organised crime family from space-Russia. And they already knew each other before the book started, which adds some layers to their story. Also, I can't write a review without mentioning Nik's cousin Ella, one of the most prominent secondary characters. She's an awesome hacker who contributes significantly to the story and is also pretty decent disability representation. Yes, she has/had a fictional disease but the mobility and respiratory consequences of it have real-world counterparts. The best thing is she's allowed to do her thing without much of a big deal being made of her physical limitations.

I recommend Gemina to fans of science fiction and YA SF. If you enjoyed Illuminae then I definitely recommend continuing on to Gemina, which I enjoyed more. Gemina almost stands alone but I don't suggest reading it on its own because the bits that tie in with the overarching plot and the events of the earlier book won't make much sense. And will kind of spoil the effect. I am definitely keen to read the last book and find out how everything is resolved.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: October 2016, Knopf (US) and Allen & Unwin (Aus)
Series: Illuminae Files book 2 of 3
Format read: US hardcover
Source: Authors
Disclaimer: I did some science-checking for the authors (and hence also read an earlier version of the MS)
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge, Aussie SF Reading Challenge


  1. I've also been really enjoying this series. The format, which I thought might turn me off, I find enhances the story. Very much looking forward to the third book!

    1. Yes, the format works quite well, doesn't it? There were only a few sections with grey text on black background that I needed good lighting for, too.